THE PROCESS OF IMPLEMENTATION: AN ECLECTIC FIELD STUDY OF A STRATEGIC IMPLEMENTATION EFFORT (MANAGEMENT, ORGANIZATION, COGNITIVE, MAPPING)
Using Mintzberg's notions of intended, realized, and emergent strategy, the notion of strategic implementation is examined and reconceptualized around interpretive ideas. The idea of frame of reference is central. A software development organization is researched in an effort to answer key questions raised by this reconceptualization. These questions revolve around whether a professional organization like this one can get from strategic intent to strategic realization deliberately, or if there is a substantial emergent element to the outcome. Key issues are the agreement on intended strategy at the outset, the adequacy of communications, the nature of the frame of reference, the enactment of a realized strategy by the organization, and the relevance of political models of strategy formulation for strategy implementation. Methods include participant observation, sociometry, semantic differential with discriminant analysis, cognitive mapping, and ethnography. The results showed that there was no organizational agreement about strategic intent. The organization was also not cohesive in terms of administrative communication, technical communication, and social interaction. The cognitive map revealed a web of interrelated variables which indicated that the members believed that the likeliest outcomes of the project would be dissatisfaction, turnover, non-advancement of their careers, and commercial and technical failure. Among the major causal variables in the map were: the intensity of organizational politics, the lack of incentives built into the effort, the aforementioned lack of effective communications, and the lack of agreement on strategic intent. The study concludes with the building of an integrated model of this implementation effort. This complex model has four tracks: an "institution building" track which concerns the enactments of the members of the development organization; a technical track, concerned with task elements; a marketing track, concerned with the formulative and political activities of that function; and an organizational political track, concerned with the formulative and political activities of the organizational context within which the development project was embedded. Variables from all four tracks must be taken into account for implementation to be fully understood.